Horses in Mongolia

Discover just how vital animals such as horses, sheep, goats, cows, and camels are in this unique country.

Cows pulling carts in Mongolia

As precious as jewels

The five main types of working animals of Mongolian herders – horses, goats, camels, cows and sheep – are referred to as the ‘five jewels’. These animals are not only relied upon for transportation, but also for producing essential goods such as milk and wool. Herder communities even burn their animals’ waste to heat their homes.

Essential for survival

Almost half of Mongolia’s three million people rely on working animals for their livelihoods and survival – for many these animals are their only source of income. Losing their animals means that these herder families could fall into poverty.

Horses in Mongolia

They need to be tough enough

These precious animals are also tough enough to survive Mongolia’s extreme climate. However, an extreme weather phenomenon known as a ‘dzud’ can threaten even these hardy herds. A dzud is a summer of drought followed by a severe winter with heavy snowfall. This puts livestock at risk as scarce pastures are made inaccessible. Sadly, last year, more than a million animals died. When this happens thousands of herders can be forced to give up their livelihoods and migrate to urban areas.

They rely on wells for water

In the absence of rivers and streams, traditional pit wells are their mainstay sources of water but many are out of use, meaning herders and their animals have to travel far in search of a reliable water supply. This can be a real problem during harsh winters, when rivers and streams freeze over.

Well with livestock and Mongolian boys

How can we help?

Through our outreach programme, we’re working with the Cambridge Mongolia Development Appeal (CAMDA) to refurbish existing wells and dig new wells. The project will greatly improve access to water in the Gobi region, reducing long treks between pastures, which stress animals, herders and their environment.

Want to discover more about our outreach programme and how it benefits working animals around the world? Find out more about all of our outreach projects.


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